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Polybius: The Most Harmful Video Recreation to By no means Exist

This online game was apparently so harmful it made gamers sick, and authorities brokers used it to manage minds. The sport’s greatest thriller, nevertheless, is whether or not it ever existed within the first place.

The Legend of Polybius

Polybius is allegedly an arcade sport that occupied the soda-stained rugs of Portland arcades in 1981. Wearing an unmarked black cupboard, it attracted gamers by means of its colourful gameplay of geometric patterns and shapes dancing throughout the display. The legend goes that upon urgent begin, unsuspecting players shortly grew to become addicted, falling right into a trance-like state that triggered reminiscence loss, seizures, blackouts, and hallucinations.

Greeks, Geeks, and Authorities Conspiracy

The Polybius arcade sport shares a reputation with a Greek thinker. Born in Megalopolis, Arcadia, in 208 B.C., Polybius the thinker is thought for creating the Polybius Sq.. This machine functioned as an encryption desk that converts Greek letters into numbers to share secret messages. Polybius additionally interprets to “many lives” in Greek.

Credit score: Manfred Werner – Tsui Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

When gamers fell beneath the spell of Polybius, the gameplay appeared to ship subliminal messages to them. Mixed with experiences of presidency employees in black fits eradicating not quarters however knowledge from the arcade machines, absolutely one thing sinister was afoot. Finally, these identical employees eliminated the sport from arcades one month later, with Polybius by no means returning to any institution ever once more.

Many thought that authorities employees used Polybius as an extension of MKUltra, authorities experiments ran by the CIA to find out methods to mind-control the populace by means of hypnosis and medicines. Whether or not Greek or geek, this sounds regarding. 

On-line Myths and Methods

Regardless of its obvious haunting of Eighties arcades, the primary public file of Polybius surfaced in February 2000 on, a database for arcade video games. The database web page offered the premise for myths surrounding the sport, alongside a picture of the beginning display.

The Polybius begin display lacks any important element aside from the sport’s title in giant letters and “1981 Sinneslöschen Inc.” The latter textual content is the supposed copyright date and sport developer, however neither appears to take a look at. No copyright was ever filed for the sport on the time, to the purpose of the FBI confirming it by no means existed within the first place. “Sinneslöschen” additionally means “thoughts erasing” in German, not less than in line with Google Translate.

Recreation Over for Myths

Whereas the myths of Polybius made it appear a treacherous plot was unfolding in Oregon arcades, these rumors have been disputable with real-world proof.

As for the soulless, clean cupboards used for Polybius, black cupboards have been utilized as take a look at machines for brand spanking new video games. The paintings was not utilized till the arcade cupboards have been prepared for a large launch.

Whereas gamers could not have skilled the unwanted side effects of lengthy arcade classes by means of Polybius, many experiences of them getting sick whereas taking part in video games. In a Portland arcade, the Eugene Register Newspaper outlined the story of Brian Mauro, a 12-year-old who skilled abdomen pains whereas taking part in Asteroids for 28 hours straight. As an alternative of being put in a Polybius-like trance, Mauro’s abdomen couldn’t deal with the limitless provide of soda he drank, fizzling up his probability at beating the excessive rating.

In a report from Cat DeSpia, on the identical day in the identical arcade, 14-year-old Michael Lopez suffered from a migraine and threw up within the car parking zone after a protracted session of Tempest. Tempest has graphics consistent with Polybius’ rumored pixels that might have been confused for the cursed cupboard.

What in regards to the authorities brokers? Legislation enforcement would put cameras and wires inside arcade machines, hoping criminals would spill their beans between rounds of gaming. Apart from gaming, playing and drug dealing have been frequent occurrences in arcades.

All these situations culminate into a sensible basis for considered one of gaming’s notorious city legends.

Ludicrous Legacy

Regardless of debates of its existence, Polybius has appeared in lots of TV exhibits and impressed different video video games. Polybius machines appeared within the background of The Simpsons season 18 episode 3, “Please Homer, Don’t Hammer Him,” and Marvel’s Loki episode 5, “Journey Into Thriller.”

Polybius additionally impressed two actual video video games of the identical identify. In 2007, developer Rogue Synapse created a free sport primarily based on the rumored descriptions of Polybius. In 2017, developer Llamasoft launched their model of Polybius for PlayStation 4.

Rogue Synapse meant to simulate the rumored gameplay of Polybius. Then again, Llamasoft solely used the city legend as inspiration, with no intention of replicating any rumored gameplay.

So, did Polybius ever exist? All indicators level to no, so it’s in all probability finest you save your quarters for an additional sport.

By James Whelan, contributor for


Uncover lots of of unusual and strange artifacts and get hands-on with unbelievable interactives if you go to a Ripley’s Odditorium!


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